Monday, November 23, 2015

UAE: Geothermal Energy Could be Used for Desalination

Masdar research boils up hot idea for water desalination (The National)

Savvina Loutatidou is hoping more research and development on geothermal 
desalination could reduce costs. Irene García León for The National
Amid the UAE’s celebration of Innovation Week, which kicks off Sunday, students at the Masdar Institute are working on projects to support the development of the Emirates, including drinking water made from geothermal energy.

However, using this resource as a desalination method, or removing salt from water to make it potable, is under-explored. Savvina Loutatidou, 26, from Greece is trying to change that. “Solar desalination will be implemented in the UAE, but I … thought it would be interesting to know about other [methods],” said the researcher and PhD candidate at the Masdar Institute.

The consumption of desalinated water in Abu Dhabi has nearly doubled over the past decade to 1,126 billion cubic metres from 667 million cubic metres, according to Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi. Yet the price associated with desalination is often high because it is an energy intensive project.

The geothermal resources present in the UAE is of the low temperature kind – up to 150°C compared with up to 300°C for high “enthalpy”, resources – which means it would not be viable for power generation but more suited for direct applications such as cooling and desalination. However, geothermal in the UAE is not yet proven to be cost competitive for desalination even though there are potentially huge fuel savings compared with conventional methods. “If we can get the cost down enough to compete with other sources, then maybe it could be possible,” said Ms Loutatidou.

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